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Is there "Chicago Style Chow Mein" in your area?

A discovery of an item called "Chicago Fried Chow Mein" on a 1946 Los Angeles Chinese restaurant menu launched a thread on the General Topics Board which created a lot of speculation, but not a lot of information. Some felt it was characterized by the use of deep-fried noodles, others that it was characterized by the brown sauce used.

A cursory Googling found that this creation still can be found in parts of New England, especially in the smaller cities in MA and RI (i.e., not Boston or Prividence). There's also someindication that it may be more common in Polynesian or Tiki-themed Chinese restaurants.

Can you find "Chicago" Chow Mein on menus in your community, and if so, where are you? What characterizes it, in your mind?

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  1. Further research (what nobler pastime for Christmas Eve?) reveals that the Chow Mein Sandwich lives on in New England, too.


    5 Replies
    1. re: Xiao Yang

      for your chow mein sandwich we have a nice one at Salem Willows in Salem Ma.

      1. re: ScubaSteve

        Salem Willows serves a Chop Suey sandwich...not sure if thats the same as a Chow Mein Sandwich, but I'd be willing to try it. They also serve Chicago Style Chow Mein or Chop Suey for like a dollar extra.

      2. re: Xiao Yang

        Wonder what they go for these days. We used to pay $0.15 for a chow mein sandwich at a place on Mineral Spring Ave in Pawtucket back in 1975.

        1. re: Bob W

          chop suey sammich at the williows was like &1.75. i think.

      3. If you are refering to the darker colored, thin-fried noodle chow-mein, then there are NUMEROUS chineses restaurants that still serve it in RI, usually the more seedy ones...

        4 Replies
        1. re: Sean

          In reading the description of what Chicago Chow Mein is, I wonder: What would possess one to eat it, let alone search out establishments where it is served?

          1. re: billy

            it's a sense memory thing. had i not the connection i do with 'The Willows' from my childhood i would not even consider my beloved chop suey sandwich.

            1. re: billy

              I'm interested as an amateur food historian/anthropologist. It's something I had never heard of until recently, in my 45 years or so of eating Chinese food in California.

              1. re: Xiao Yang

                We used to get Chow Mein sandwiches for $1.00 at Young China in East Providence every Christmas eve growing up in the late 70's, early 80's...

          2. I have never ordered it there, nor am I particularly recommending the place, but the Ho Toy in Worcester on Park Ave. has it on the menu.

            1. Chicago Chow Mein can be found on the menu at the Tiki Port in Hyannis on the Cape. As to chow mein sandwiches...it's a staple in New Bedford as a cheap lunch served on a hamburger roll. For some very strange reason it usually comes with french fries.

              1. Golden Temple in Brookline has Chicago style on the menu; I've never yet been tempted to try it though I may someday.....

                1. Shanghai Gardens on Rte. 1 South in Attleboro MA has CCM on it's menu...also at Tahiti Restaurant on Rte.1 in Dedham. Not that I've ever been there. My Google Guru told me .

                  Why are people dissing Chow Mein? As far I know, it's just a bunch of sliced vegetables thickened with a cornstarch slurry. Usually white, but I guess the Chicago style has brown sauce (which I don't love).

                  1. Chicago Pork Chop Suey at Beijing Cuisines, Manchvegas, NH

                    1. I work in the business of Chinese food. In southern New England, at least, when one orders chow mein "Boston style," it comes in a darker-than-usual sauce.

                      The bits about chow mein sandwiches brings back memories of the ones at Nathan's Famous in New York's Coney Island.

                      1. Alas, the heavenly Chow Mein Sandwich of my childhood is no longer available, but I'm going to try to recreate it one of these days. It was sold at a drive-in in Bridgeport, Connecticut by the name of Maraczi's. The sauce was a beautiful golden color. When Route 8 went through, the land where Maraczi's stood was claimed by eminent domain, but the owners persevered and built a new building farther back on the property. A local chain, Duchess, took it over and sold the sandwiches for a few years. If anyone knows of a place in New Haven or Fairfield County that sells them, please advise.

                        1. Grew up in Pawtucket RI. Chow mein sandwiches on cheap hamburger buns were an after school staple for a bunch of us kids in the early 80's. A dollar bought you a bag full (from $.10 to $.25 each.) of sandwiches to share with your friends while hanging out. Every now and again I still get a craving for one. And when I actually see one on a menu somewhere I smile!!!!! We never called it anything other than Chow Mein though. Until recently I only thought there was one kind and never realized that there were different styles. To this day I'm not really sure what kind I used to eat; other than it had brown sauce and you served it atop the crispy noodles. So I guess that is Chicago Style????